ISTANBUL — A prosecutor who is conducting an investigation into the role of several security officers in the 2007 assassination of journalist Hrant Dink has submitted his understanding of the hierarchical structure of the criminal network behind the murder.
Prosecutor Muammer Akkas has placed every suspect in the Dink trial in a hierarchical chart of the organization based on evidence collected during the investigation, which is a very important development according to Dink family lawyers. The prosecution has also requested an intelligence report filed by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) that establishes links between Dink’s killers and the Special Operations Department, which does not officially exist. It is the name of the unit that was later changed to the Mobilization Unit (STK) of the Turkish Armed Forces. This report will also be included in the indictment as further evidence of the links between the murderers and illegal groups within security agencies. The prosecution’s findings are the results of a two-year investigation.
Dink, the editor-in-chief of Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, was shot by a teenager outside his office in 2007, in what initially appeared to be a murder staged due to the young hitman’s ultranationalist sentiments. However, during the course of the five-year trial, both co-plaintiff lawyers and the prosecutor were able to gather evidence indicating the role of a larger group, possibly linked to cabals inside the military plotting to overthrow the government such as the Ergenekon network. Co-plaintiff layers have long complained about attempts at a cover-up, as several gendarmerie and police officers are also involved in the trial. As if to confirm the suspicions, the court found that the hitman had acted alone, a ruling that was recently overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals. The lower court’s judge said he knew there was an organizational link but accused the prosecution of failing to prove it, in a public row between him and the prosecutor.
MIT’s report on the Dink murder was made public last week. It states that the Dink murder, the massacre of three Bible publishers in Malatya in 2007 and the murder of a Catholic priest in Trabzon in 2006 were part of a plot devised and carried out by a group inside the General Staff’s Special Operations Department. The MIT report is likely to shed light on a number of unsolved cases, mostly assassinations in 2007. The report clearly states that the “planning, implementation and management” of the three murders was carried out by the STK.
Commenting on the prosecutor putting together the chart of the criminal organization’s makeup, lawyer for the co-plaintiff side in the Dink murder trial Bahri Belen said: “It is important that the prosecution requests the [MIT] reports. This is completely in line with the way we have wanted the Hrant Dink investigation to be perceived all along. Everything about the murder should be questioned. We can’t even dream of having the slightest hope for a democracy unless structures such as Special Operations aren’t exposed. It was clear as day that there is an organizational link the first day of the investigation.”
Erdal Dogan, a lawyer for the co-plaintiff side in the Malatya missionary murders case, said, “Murders committed by Special Operations and the National Strategies and Operations Department of Turkey [TUSHAD] should not be ignored.”